End of the Tour
Johannesburg Travel Blog› entry 16 of 18 › view all entries
The six of us going to Jo'burg checked our bags in at the airport then had a quick drink in a cafe before boarding the plane, a small propeller propelled craft. The flight was really smooth except for the landing when we experienced a lot of turbulence and the plane was moving about quite a lot in the air. Jo'burg airport was really efficient and we had a transfer arranged to take us to The Ritz backpackers.
The following day some of us left to go to a cheaper hostel and took a tour of Soweto, the largest township of Johannesburg. This was very interesting and we were told about the atrocity of the Soweto uprising. This happened on 16th June 1976 when school children protested against the government implementing a scheme where all students would be forced to learn Afrikaans (a language derived from Dutch) and exams and would also be written in this language. Imagine if your government suddenly said that teachers must now teach their subject in Korean and all exam papers would also be written in Korean, regardless of your mother tongue.
It is not know who gave the initial order to shoot but this is what the police did and as school childed fled for their lives some were slain by the onslaught of bullets. A 12 year old boy, Hector Pieterson was one of the first to be shot and there is a famous photograph of a fellow student carrying his dying body as his sister holds on in hysterics. To this day June 16th is national holiday where the youth are celebrated.
Soweto is both very rich and very poor. When we stopped on one road we could look to our left and see the housing provided by the government, with broken walls, shared water and port-a-loos outside. On our right were houses costing millions of dollars. The worst were the shanty towns, home to people who were out of work and had not yet been rehoused by the government, who are at least trying to help these people.
We also saw the house of Nelson Mandela, an incredible man and someone who I would love to meet.
On the way back to the youth hostel we were driven through the centre of Johannesburg. There was not a single white person on the street. If there was they would be mugged. The centre of Jo'burg is not the place to be. Thankfully our youth hostel was in a safe area so we were free to wander to the shops if we wanted to.
I have loved my time in Africa and I can now say that I have at least seen a small section of this huge continent. There is plenty more to see though and I would love to come back.